Final Walkthroughs | What Are They and What to Look For?
A final walkthrough determines that the property is substantially in the same condition as when the offer was written. That’s it. Pretty cut and dry, right? As we explore this in more detail, I want to emphasize the word substantially. At the final walkthrough, we will indeed look at everything, but the main purpose of the walkthrough is to look for items that are a big deal, not to nitpick the small stuff. What we want you to take away from this topic is that when the walkthrough is complete, you’re closing… or you’re not.
Let’s explore the psychology at play here. When some buyers are at the final walkthrough, it’s almost like they expect some sort of magic to happen. They’re super excited, eager to test all the little things… showers, toilets, lights, appliances, windows, etc. And that’s totally fine! But we’re not practicing the dark arts here, and that’s not what the walkthrough is all about. This is not an inspection. What your agent is looking for are significant issues of structural integrity, or health and safety concerns, like standing water in the basement or a pest infestation (that were not present previously). Did the sellers leave the electrical and plumbing intact when they moved out? Are all the appliances accounted for? These would be substantial problems.
On the flip side of the coin, there are some things that may be uncovered at the walkthrough that can be a bummer, but not a deal-breaker. First off, remember that moving out can be a full-contact sport. We’ve all done it. Carrying around large, heavy furniture can occasionally cause a scuff on a wall or a scrape on a door frame. Another common occurrence is discovering stains on carpets or hardwood floors that were covered up by a rug or bed. Wear and tear items are easy to look past at the first showing, but at second glance holes in screens or cracked tiles can suddenly appear. Random maintenance might be needed in the kitchen if a gas burner isn’t working, or the dishwasher has a bad $20 gasket slowly leaking. Additionally, and unfortunately, homes are rarely cleaned to a high standard at move out… we always advise clients to plan on doing some serious cleaning!
Here are a few final thoughts and pieces of advice. The final walkthrough should be enjoyable, but buyers need to keep their focus. It’s not advisable to bring friends or family; there will be plenty of time for that after closing. If something substantial is uncovered, and this is a rare, worst-case scenario, a few things will happen. Your agent will notify the title company and lender that the closing is delayed. A conversation will be had with the listing agent about how and when the seller will make repairs. Financial amendments may be considered as well. Unfortunately, you also would have to figure out temporary accommodations and what to do with the moving van until you’re able to move in.
If a few minor “wear and tear” items are found, please keep in mind that all homes need some sort of repair – whether they are 2 months or 200 years old – and no different than a buyer of new construction making a “punch list” after moving in. At least you’ll have notice of what cosmetic fixes you want to tackle first. Plus, asking to be compensated a few hundred or a thousand bucks for a small defect outside of closing can be a touchy subject, in terms of potential mortgage fraud. And remember, it’s an emotional time for both parties in a real estate transaction, and ultimately everyone involved would rather close than not!